Become a Patron!

Bryant Strong, a police officer in Prince George’s County, was sentenced Thursday to a year in jail as well as three years of probation. In 2019, a traffic stop for Demonte Ward-Blake–a Black man–conducted by Strong left Ward-Blake paralyzed from the neck down. He died last year at just 26 years of age in an unrelated shooting.

Ward-Blake was pulled over on Oct. 17, 2019, with the reason being expired tags. During the stop, a Prince George’s police officer pulled his gun from his holster — which upset Ward-Blake because his girlfriend’s 6-year-old daughter was sitting in the back seat. Strong was one of several officers who then arrived on scene.

Though Ward-Blake obeyed all officer commands—which included being detained, put in handcuffs and left to sit on the curb, he apparently yelled at officers which was gathered from videos of the traffic stop and testimony during trial.

Due to Ward-Blake’s alleged yelling, Strong arrested him for disorderly conduct and walked him to the side of his patrol car, where he conducted a body search. Prosecutors said that Strong was enraged by Ward-Blake’s cursing and slammed him headfirst into the concrete—which went far beyond excessive force. Strong’s defense attorney claimed it was an “accident.”

The officer, 29, was found guilty in May of second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment during a bench trial in front of Circuit Court Judge DaNeeka V. Cotton. During Strong’s sentencing, many of his fellow officers supported him with three testifying on his behalf.

Malcolm Ruff, who works as a civil rights attorney, spoke for Ward-Blake’s family; he is representing them in a federal civil lawsuit against the county and Strong. Ruff explained to the judge that Ward-Blake was a loved and happy 24-year-old before the traffic stop and that his paralysis forced him into a wheelchair and was responsible for excruciating pain.

The judge sentenced Strong to 20 years with all but one year suspended, but he could serve that time later if he violates parole. Strong’s attorney, Shaun Owens, pleaded with the judge to defer the officer’s detention during the appeals process. Cotton’s answer was no; she also denied his request for home detention.

The $75 million wrongful death lawsuit that Ward-Blake’s family filed in February is still pending.

This content was originally published here.

Back To Top
%d bloggers like this: